State Rep. Allen Peake said Thursday he knew there would be criticism from the community when he and other members of Bibb County’s legislative delegation changed partisan elections to nonpartisan for the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated government.
Still, “If it came up today, I would do it all again,” he said.
Peake, R-Macon, addressed more than 30 members of the Macon Exchange Club, talking about the nonpartisan special election that’s set for Sept. 17.
He said he and other Republican members of the delegation decided to switch to nonpartisan elections earlier this year for several reasons, even though last year’s consolidation bill called for a partisan vote.
“For whatever reason, I’ve become a real polarizing figure,” Peake told those gathered. “I hope going to nonpartisan elections eliminates a lot of division in the community. We’re all one government now. That was kind of the intent of this.”
Peake and others, including state Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, drew protests over the change, with officials such as state Sen. David Lucas, R-Macon, referring to it as a “bait-and-switch” action.
The Bibb County Democratic Party and other members of the community appealed to the Department of Justice, asking it to block the move, but the appeal became moot after the Supreme Court struck down part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that made prior approval of such voting changes mandatory.
Lucas and others also maintained that Republicans were marginalizing black voting.